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Auto blogTue, 17 Dec 2013 16:30:00 EST
Those loony Brits at Top Gear have named their Car of the Year, and if you're thinking it's the McLaren P1, Jaguar F-Type, Land Rover Range Rover Sport or Rolls-Royce Wraith, we're sorry to inform you that none of those Anglo automobiles earned the crown. In fact, the winner of Top Gear's most prestigious award is quite the surprise.
Of course, those cars weren't without their own awards. The P1 was the top hypercar (sorry, Porsche 918 and Ferrari LaFerrari), while the F-Type netted best convertible and the Range Rover Sport was voted SUV of the Year. Other honorable mentions included the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black and S-Class, the Porsche 911 GT3, the BMW i3 and the Ferrari 458 Speciale. The winner, though, wasn't even a high-dollar supercar. It was the Ford Fiesta ST.
Yes, the Fiesta ST beat out some off-the-wall cars like the revolutionary Volkswagen XL1 and the bonkers Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak, not to mention all the cars we listed above, to take the title of Top Gear Car of the Year. And if you've driven one, you'll completely understand why.
The Blue Oval's 'One Ford' mantra has seen rapid commonization of the automaker's products across markets, but North America still has to look from afar at most of the company's Max-branded people movers, including this new S-Max. That's a bit of a shame - we like the space efficiency and above-average driving dynamics of the C-Max models we do get, but seeing this updated seven-seat small minivan makes us want the One Ford initiative to extend even further.
The new model's changes include an updated powertrain range including a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four with 158 horsepower, and a larger, 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter model, along with a pair of revised lower-emissions 2.0-liter diesels. The big news, however, is the advent of available all-wheel drive, something that hasn't been offered since the S-Max first went on sale back in 2006.
On the technology front, the S-Max is the first European model to receive Ford Adaptive Steering, a variable-ratio technology we recently sampled in a prototype Fusion that is expected to go into production on the next-generation Edge. The S-Max also receives a new aluminum-intensive integral link rear suspension, packaged to continue to fit up to 32 different seating combinations. Safety equipment is always a prime concern in kinschleppers like the S-Max, and to that end, this new model receives pre-collision assist technology and LED headlamps.
Ask the average consumer - at least, those who follow the goings-on in the automotive industry - which carmaker they'd most closely associate Microsoft, and the answer you'd most likely get would be Ford. The Blue Oval automaker, after all, was at the forefront of bringing Microsoft technology into cars with its pioneering Sync system, and, though reality didn't turn out as such, Ford's CEO was recently touted as a potential future head of the Redmond-based software giant. But that relationship, according to the latest reports, could be coming to an end.
Alan Mullaly kiboshed the idea of leaving Dearborn for Redmond, but more importantly Ford is tipped to be ditching Microsoft in developing its next-generation Sync system. In its place, Ford is expected to partner with BlackBerry's QNX division.
Now, before you go balking "BlackBerry?! But they're finished!" consider that QNX is (or at least was) an independent entity that Research In Motion (as BlackBerry's Ontario-based parent company was then known) just happened to have bought back in 2010. QNX provides control systems to everything from nuclear power plants and UAVs to automakers like Audi, BMW and Porsche.